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A History of the Ancient Near East: Ca. 3000-323 BC (Blackwell History of the Ancient World) Paperback – 1 Dec 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2nd Edition edition (1 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405149116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405149112
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.8 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"There is no longer any possible excuse for any undergraduate curriculum in ancient history not to offer a course of Ancient Near Eastern history under the pretext that there would be no adequate, accessible, and affordable textbook." ( Scholia Reviews) Praise for second edition: “The additions to this volume have only added to its immense worth as both a textbook and a scholarly volume.” Bryn Mawr Classical Review Praise for the first edition: "Marc Van De Mieroop′s introduction to the history of Iraq and the Asiatic Near East is suited to first–year undergraduates in ancient history, the archaeology of Western Asia and ancient Near Eastern studies generally, and to all others who need an up–to–date summary of what happened before the Greeks." Times Higher Education Supplement "I do not know of any other handbook of similar size that can compete with Van de Mieroop′s book in philological competence, in historiographic method, and in expository clearness." Mario Liverani, in Orientalia “This text deserves a place on the shelves of ancient historians and archaeologists, and it will certainly have pride of place in reading lists for courses in Mesopotamian history.” Norman Yoffee, University of Michigan “As a textbook on Mesopotamian history, particularly the period from c.3000 BC to 612 BC, this book has no English–language equivalent … This should be standard reading, therefore, for all students and scholars in the field.” Bryn Mawr Classical Review

From the Back Cover

This revised edition of A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000–323 BC integrates new research from the rapidly developing field of ancient Near Eastern history and greatly expands the guide to further reading from the first edition. The book presents a clear, concise history of the extraordinary multicultural civilizations of the ancient Near East, their political and military events, and their cultures and societies. Beginning with the emergence of writing around 3000 BC, the narrative ranges from the origins of the first cities in Mesopotamia, through the growth of the Babylonian and Hittite kingdoms, to the Assyrian and Persian empires. It ends with the transformation of the ancient Near East by the conquests of Alexander the Great. This accessible text is accompanied by numerous maps and illustrations, and contains a rich selection of Near Eastern texts in translation. Each chapter also includes key research questions or additional text references, such as passages on the use of the Bible as a historical source, excerpts from the Epic of Gilgamesh, or the Assyrian royal annals, intended to add an additional element of comprehension to the text.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J. Reffin on 12 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
This book covers over 3,000 years of history in the Ancient Near East, focusing primarily on the crucible of civilisation - Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The book covers the subject matter chronologically, dividing the history into three broad sections: City States (3500 BCE-1300 BCE), Territorial States (1300 BCE - 850 BCE) and Empires (850 BCE - 350 BCE). Within each section, key developments are outlined and assessed, providing the reader with a good, clear overview of developments in Sumer, Balbylonia, Assyria and (to a lesser extent) the surrounding territories of Syria, Anatolia, and Elam (north west Iran).

I have found it an invaluable introduction to a complex but extraordinarily important story, the details of which are still emerging fitfully from the ground.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Charles Rampant on 23 July 2010
Format: Paperback
The ancient Near East can be a mystifying minefield of names, with the chronological distances involved making matters worse; but it is also a fascinating story of the rise of the first civilisations. Any student of history or the classics should find worth in a book that illustrates this story. The text, which ends with the accession of Alexander the Great, covers not only the native civilisations of the `fertile crescent' but also the wider economic networks that, during the New Kingdom Egypt/Mycenaean period, underpinned the states all around the Mediterranean world. The linguistic changes that took place throughout this immense time period are also discussed, including diagrams that illustrate those changes in detail.

In this book, the excitingly-named Marc Van De Mieroop manages to create a lucid and understandable narrative, allowing the reader to follow the cycles of rising and falling cities and empires. Throughout the text there is a set of clearly marked maps, and inset boxes with primary source extracts, both of which are useful and informative. In conclusion, though the subject matter may put it beyond the interests of many, anyone who is interested in this time period would be well-advised to add this to their collection.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 April 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a freshman-college level survey of a seminal period of history: with Bronze Age technologies and refined agriculture, the first empires arose to establish patterns of urban civilization and king-centered governance that would last more or less to the industrial revolution. It is absolutely essential stuff and very fun to know.

In the beginning, there were innumerable competing city states in Mesopotamia, who jockeyed for advantage and tiny slices of territory. Each city state had an urban elite with the beginnings of written records (in syllabic cuneiform) to cover both administrative arrangements and early narrative literature and poetry. Much was recorded on Steles, in the form of propaganda regarding some leader's exploits. In time, the organization extended to larger regions that thrived on trade and a specialized work force, enabling elaborate religions with temples to arise as well as monumental architecture, particularly with ziggurats in Babylon. The king was often also the head priest, as in Egypt, but the functions were increasingly separated. Finally, empires (e.g. Assyrian and Persian) arose over huge territories that involved vast displacements of entire populations for purposes of slave labor and mercenary uses. This order ended only with the conquest by Alexander and his heirs, who divided his empire and were more or less absorbed into the local cultures. These peoples were predominantly semitic, at the time when Jews, Arabs, and others were forming into distinctive cultures. But there were also Indo-Europeans in the Hittites and then the Persians, both of whom established formidable empires.

There were several crucial turning points that are covered in outline.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a clear and concise introduction, but only an introduction aqnd it is not fully comprehensive, despite its three hundred pages of text. The very ambitious topic is the history of the Near East from Iran to Anatolia and the Caspian Gates to Palestine over a period of twenty seven centuries.

It is an overview and cannot be anything more than that, given the huge scope that this book seeks to cover. The Aegean world and Egypt have been excluded, largely for geographical reasons (neither are in Asia), but also because it would have been simply impossible to fit them in in addition to all the rest. They are nevertheless mentioned when they interact with the various states of the region, although this is more frequently the case for Egypt.

This book has many qualities. One of these is the author's clarity when presenting what could have been at times a boring subject. A more mixed feature is his concision. At times, I would have wished for more explanations and discussions on certain aspects, although I am aware of expecting too much here, since this book can be no more than an introduction and an overview.

Largely because of its huge scope, the focus tends to be on the major city-states, kingdoms and Empires, rather than on their vassals or on the second-rate powers. This is hardly avoidable, even if it means that you will not get to know very much about the numerous city-states of Syria and Palestine because the book can do little more than scratch the surface here. Do not expect to learn a lot on the Philistines, for instance, although there is quite a lot on the Assyrians, by contrast.

One consequence is that, at times, the text is a bit dry and you sometimes get the impression that this is just "the bare bones".
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